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Job vacancies reach record high

Data collected prior to the outbreak of the Omicron variant has revealed that job vacancy levels in Australia are higher than ever.

Business Fergus Halliday 18 January 2022
— 1 minute read

According to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the number of vacancies reached fresh highs in November 2021.


Pointing to an overall total of approximately 396,000 vacancies, ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said that the number of job vacancies was now 74 per cent higher than it was at the start of the pandemic.

“These figures continue to show the high demand for workers from businesses emerging from lockdowns, together with ongoing labour shortages, particularly in lower paying industries,” he said.

While job vacancies are now higher than the start of the pandemic across the board, Mr Jarvis said that the upward trend was especially pronounced for those in the cultural sector.

ABS data suggested that vacancies in the arts and recreation are now 271 per cent higher than February 2020 levels.

Accommodation and food services saw a similarly high rise of 211 per cent over the period, followed by rental, hiring and real estate services at 165 per cent.

“Even in administrative and support services, which saw the smallest increase, job vacancies were 28 per cent higher,” Mr Jarvis added.

The ABS said that the record-high level of job vacancies in November 2021 was driven by a 19 per cent quarterly increase as lockdown restrictions eased across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

Mr Jarvis noted that this latest increase in job vacancies came off the back of a fall in August that coincided with the Delta lockdowns.

“The decline in August was the first since May 2020, when Australia was in the initial wave of COVID-related restrictions,” he noted.

Broken out by states, the data also revealed a 120 per cent increase in job vacancies in Western Australia compared to the period prior to the pandemic. 

The ABS found that the percentage of businesses reporting at least one vacancy grew from 20 per cent in August to 21 per cent in November. 

Mr Jarvis noted that this put vacancy levels at only slightly below those of May 2021 but much higher than those of February 2020.

“Many businesses continued to report difficulties in filling their vacancies,” he said.

Job vacancies reach record high
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Emma Ryan

Emma Ryan

Emma Ryan is the deputy head of content at Momentum Media and editor of the company's legal publication, Lawyers Weekly.

Emma has worked for Momentum Media since 2015 and has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest stories in corporate Australia. In addition, she has produced exclusive multimedia and event content related to the company's respective brands and audiences.

A journalist by training, Emma has spent her career connecting with key industry stakeholders across a variety of platforms, including online, podcast and radio. She graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism).